Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), the co-chair of the joint supercommittee that will attempt to negotiate a debt deal this fall, told the Dallas Chamber of Commerce today that he will not take any policy options off the table before the committee begins negotiating. That includes new taxes, even though Hensarling personally opposes them, the Dallas Morning News reports:
“If I start to take something off the table, then maybe Senator [Patty] Murray takes something off the table and the talks fail before they even get started,” Hensarling said, referring to the Washington state senator who co-chairs the panel. [...]
“I have an open mind, but it is not an empty mind,” Hensarling said before addressing the Dallas Regional Chamber.”
In prior negotiations, the GOP held steadfast to its no taxes pledge, a stance that is not only opposed by a majority of Americans but also played a significant role in the downgrade of the nation’s credit rating earlier this month. Republican representatives who stonewalled every attempt to raise revenue, even as corporations and the wealthy pay low taxes and oil companies continue to benefit from huge government subsidies, have come under fire during the August recess as voters slam them for signing nonsensical tax pledges instead of listening to their constituents.
The fact that Hensarling isn’t immediately discarding the possibility of new revenues is progress, but the chance that he or the GOP have had a major change of heart on revenues is likely slim. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-MD) has urged his colleagues to ignore the implications of Standard & Poor’s downgrade report, falsely claiming that it did not smack Republicans for refusing any and all forms of revenue. More likely, Hensarling, who supports the GOP’s radical Balanced Budget Amendment and wants the supercommittee to revise the Affordable Care Act, is just positioning himself at the bargaining table before the supercommittee convenes for the first time.